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An asylum case could easily hinge on the immigration law judge

Many people attempt to enter the country seeking asylum through ports of entry such as New Orleans. They count on the country's immigration law to drive their cases, but that may be a mistake. Instead, it appears that the beliefs of individual judges may be driving whether frightened and vulnerable refugees receive asylum.

This may not surprise those who routinely work in the immigration law system, but it may come as a surprise to those who believe that judges are required to remain impartial. Much of the issue revolves around the concept of approving asylum for individuals who have credible fear of imminent violence in their home countries. People who fear persecution at the hands of their countries' governments may receive asylum, but some say that people are using "private criminal activity," such as gang-related violence and domestic violence, as reasons for fleeing their home countries.

A review of cases decided in California revealed that some immigration judges do not believe that the threat of gang-related violence justifies granting asylum to its victims while others find it to be a valid reason to do so. This creates a great deal of confusion for those seeking asylum. A system in which asylum seekers must rely on the "luck of the draw" when it comes to the judge assigned to their cases may need to be fixed.

Of course, the merits of each case need to be examined, but most people would agree that a more consistent and less subjective application of immigration law would be preferable. Instead, even people with seemingly iron-clad cases cannot count on the system to work as intended. This is just one reason why it may be a good idea for refugees here in New Orleans to seek out the advice and assistance of an experienced immigration law attorney.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Immigration courts are deeply split on who can claim asylum over violence in home countries", David G. Savage, May 6, 2018

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